Guide to tariff classification for Canadian imports: Legal notes of the Harmonized System
On this page
- Legal notes
- Explanatory notes
- Classification decisions issued by the World Customs Organization
- Related links
The section, chapter and subheading notes are all together referred to as the Legal notes of the Harmonized System (HS).
You must follow these 4 levels of legal notes when classifying goods imported into Canada:
- Section notes
- Chapter notes
- Subheading notes
- Supplementary notes
Section, chapter and subheading notes apply internationally up to the subheading level. In Canada we also have supplementary notes. These notes are applied at the tariff item level only.
The legal notes are located at the beginning of the section or chapter to which they relate. They define the scope and limits of sections, chapters, headings and subheadings by providing:
- general definitions establishing the scope of a heading or subheading
- lists of typical examples of goods a heading or subheading may cover
- the lists are non-exhaustive so they don't show every single good that belongs on the list
- lists of goods that one heading excludes and another includes
Note: Besides legal notes, the Canadian Customs Tariff also has statistical notes. They are not part of the legal text. They provide more information for statistical purposes only.
Explanatory notes (ENs) are established by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The ENs are available by subscription at WCO trade tools or for purchase via the WCO online bookshop.
ENs are not legally binding, but you must consider them when classifying goods as they help to clarify the goods that are covered under a heading or subheading. Reference: Section 11 of the Customs Tariff legislation.
The ENs are not an exhaustive source of information, but they will help you correctly interpret the HS.
- describe how to interpret the nomenclature
- comment on the scope of each heading
- give a more thorough list of the goods that are included or excluded
- include detailed technical descriptions of the goods concerned (i.e., their appearance, properties, method of production, and uses)
Classification decisions issued by the World Customs Organization
The WCO has a list of the most significant or difficult classification decisions. This list is called the Compendium of Classification Opinions (CCOs).
It refers only to specific goods and their classification.
Like ENs, the CCOs are not legally binding, but you must consider them when classifying goods. Reference: Section 11 of the Customs Tariff legislation.
- WCO website
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